Animal rights activists question whether their movement was taken seriously by Wellington City Council after a “stuff-up” led to their planned protest clashing with Christmas celebrations in the capital.
On Sunday, a protest organised by Wellington Vegan Actions rallied hundreds of protesters through the A Very Welly Christmas event in Lambton Quay.
Co-organiser of the animal rights protest Chris Huriwai said their event had been given the OK by the council five months ago, and perhaps they had not expected the vegan protest to be so big.
“We sort of put it back on the council for double booking the space, but if there’d been communication with all parties involved maybe a month in advance, maybe we could have come to some other type of compromise,” he said.
“It’s a typical response that vegan activists get, we’re often not taken too seriously, maybe they weren’t expecting 500 people marching through the streets … so next time they might take our heads-up more seriously.”
Huriwai said the council had contacted them a few days ago and asked if they could change their date or route.
“We did make a small adjustment in our route so we did find some sort of compromise,” he said.
“But changing the route completely or changing the day was out of the question for us considering five months planning had gone into it.”
Wellington city councillor Nicola Young said it had not been a case of underestimating the animal rights activists, but rather a council “stuff-up”.
“I’m sure they were taken seriously, but there’s different departments at the council and clearly they’ve got to communicate, which is embarrassing on our part, the lack of communication,” she said.
“It sounds like it was a lack of communication between two wings of the council, to put it simply, it sounds like it was a stuff-up.”
In spite of the clash, Huriwai said the protest ran smoothly and praised their safety marshals and the council for ensuring everyone’s safety.
While not everyone had been happy by their presence at A Very Welly Christmas, he said many had been open to their messaging and eager to get involved.
The size of the Wellington protest was also comparable to the turnout at two recent protests in Auckland, a city of 1.6 million.
“I was expecting half of the turnout of the protest we had in a place like Auckland, but the numbers were comparable, which is a tip of the hat to Wellington – a very green, progressive, open-minded city.”
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